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2024 Saudi Cup Day

horse racing
Jockey Junior Alvarado celebrates aboard Senor Buscador after winning the Saudi Cup.
Date: 02/24/2024

The Saudi Cup at King Abdulaziz Racecourse is the richest horse race in the world. King Abdulaziz Racecourse. Conditions were ideal for racing in Riyadh on Saturday night, with clear skies, a race time temperature of 28 C (82 F), the main track fast and turf course firm.

horse racing
Inside view of the finish of the Saudi Cup.

In the main event, a field of 14 older horses contested the $20 million Saudi Cup (G1) at 1800 meters (about 1 1/8 miles) around one turn out of the long chute of the 1 1/4 mile main dirt track. White Abarrio was sent off as the 6-5 favorite off wins in the Whitney Stakes (G1) and Breeders' Cup Classic (G1). In to challenge him included 6-1 second choice Derma Sotogake, second in the Breeders' Cup Classic after finishing 6th in the Kentucky Derby (G1), and 13-2 third choice Ushba Tesoro, 5th in the Breeders' Cup Classic before winning the Tokyo Daishoten (G1).

Jockey Florent Geroux sent 17-1 Saudi Crown to the lead exiting the chute and he set fractions of 23.60, 46.01, and 1:11.34 while pressed by 7-1 fourth choice National Treasure and stalked by 29-1 Isolate. Entering the stretch Saudi Crown continued to lead through 1 mile in 1:36.34, but Ushba Tesoro poked his head in front with 25 meters to go. Senor Buscador, held up early by jockey Junior Alvarado, rallied down the center of the track to win by a head in the final strides in a stakes record time of 1:49.50. It was 3/4 length back to pacesetter Saudi Crown third, while favorite White Abarrio was midpack early but failed to rally finishing 10th beaten 15 lengths.
horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey           Win   Place
12  Senor Buscador      Alvarado       28.80    7.60
13  Ushba Tesoro        Kawada                  4.80
11  Saudi Crown         Geroux                 11.80

Winning Time:  1:49.50

$1  Exacta 12-13                    81.40
$1  Trifecta 12-13-11            1,120.90
$1  Superfecta 12-13-11-9        6,182.40
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racing
Senor Buscador heads to the winner's circle after the Saudi Cup. Winning trainer Todd Fincher, celebrating his first Grade 1 win, said, "I'm about to cry, it's amazing. He never got the credit he deserved and he finally got to show it today. I didn't believe it, as something always happens to him in every race. He always has 10 or 11 horses to weave in and out of. We know he was going to run good, we just had to hope for the right set up. It's awesome. From New Mexico, we don't have the quality of horses very often but the stable is getting better now and they treated us great over here. I'm very excited about the opportunity and getting it done is unbelievable. The plan is Dubai but we will leave it up to the horse. He usually doesn't take long to bounce back and we just need to make sure his physical health is in good shape."

horse racing
The trophy presentation for the Saudi Cup. Winning owner-breeder Joe Peacock Jr. said, "My (late) father and I started in racing about 55 years ago. This is the last horse my dad and I bred together. The one-turn mile and eighth was right up his alley and a track that played fair. We can make excuses for him, he puts himself in that position getting dirt in his face but he sure tries to overcome it every time. A couple of weeks before the Pegasus we thought of The Saudi Cup. I was so adamant he would prove himself and he has. This ranks up there. This was big. We were excited about the opportunity. We felt the horse deserved the opportunity. It's amazing." Winning jockey Junior Alvarado said, "We got a bit unlucky the last two races on the track, very fast with speed horses, and I never like to change the style of horses. I always had faith in the horse and we just needed, not even luck, just a fair track and I knew we would get that today. I'm very happy, very grateful for opportunities that come along. I try give my horses the best opportunity. I'm trying to take advantage of every opportunity I get after having some injuries."

horse racing The $1.5 million Sports Boulevard Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) featured a field of 9 older horses going 1200 meters (about 6 furlongs) on the main track. Skelly was sent off as the 2-1 favorite off a 7 race win streak including the King Cotton Stakes last out at Oaklawn, over 3-1 second choice Remake, second in the JBC Sprint after winning the Korea Sprint (G3), and 5-1 third choice Bold Journey off wins in the Fall Highweight (G3) and Gravesend Stakes at Aqueduct.

Jockey Taisei Danno sent 14-1 Jasper Krone to the lead through fractions of 23.44 and 46.05 while pressed by 9-1 Rebellious Stage and stalked by Skelly. Into the lane Jasper Krone tired allowing Skelly to inherit the lead at the 3/16 pole but Remake, unhurried early under Yuga Kawada, came out for room and rallied to win by 1 1/2 lengths over Skelly in 1:10.42. It was another 3 lengths back to late-running Bold Journey third.

 #  Horse                Jockey          Win   Place
 8  Remake               Kawada         4.40    2.30
 9  Skelly               Santana                3.10
 1  Bold Journey         Rosario                3.00

Winning Time:  1:10.42

$1  Exacta 8-9                      13.40
$1  Trifecta 8-9-1                  47.90
$1  Superfecta 8-9-1-4             319.10 

Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Remake heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Yuga Kawada said, "I expected a fast pace in the early stages and it went as I expected so I was nice and calm and waited to the straight. It means a huge amount." Trainer Koichi Shintani added, "If Remake showed his performance, I was pretty sure he was going to get there. But as he got beaten last year it was so disappointing so we spoke with the staff and tried to better that performance. I think he is at an advantage that he can race from anywhere and that is his strength."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Riyadh Dirt Sprint.

horse racing
Remake heads back to the barn in his winner's blanket. Winning owner Koji Maeda said, "I have won three Japan Derbies but this is even more. When he came into the final bend he was travelling so well and I was pretty sure he was going to win. Physically he has improved since last year. The trainer and all his staff put everything together and brought the horse here for a brilliant result which makes it really special. I came from no background in racing and now I have 30 Group 1 winners as an owner-breeder. It means a lot. I will bring the trophy back to hotel and sleep with it tonight."

horse racing Kicking off the graded stakes action was the only age-restricted race on Saudi Cup night, the $1.5 million Boutique Group Saudi Derby (G3), for 3-year-olds going the 1 turn mile on the main track. Forever Young, undefeated in 3 starts including the JBC Nisai Yushun and Zennippon Nisai Yushun, was sent off as the 3-5 favorite over 4-1 second choice Book'em Danno, winner of the Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, and 7-1 third choice Set Up, 7th in the Asahi Hai Futurity (G1) after winning the Sapporo Nisai (G3).

45-1 Ajwadi and 24-1 Haayeet dueled for the early lead down the backstretch while stalked by Set Up and 16-1 Bentornato. In the stretch Book'em Danno, midpack early, swept to the lead but Forever Young, unhurried early under Ryusei Sakai, rallied to win by a head in 1:36.17. It was a long 6 1/4 lengths back to Bentornato third.

horse racing

 #  Horse                Jockey          Win   Place
 6  Forever Young        Sakai          3.50    2.60
 5  Book'em Danno        Ortiz Jr.              2.70
 4  Bentornato           Saez                   8.30

Winning Time:  1:36.17

$1  Exacta 6-5                       7.30
$1  Trifecta 6-5-4                  35.20
$1  Superfecta 6-5-4-2             393.80
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Forever Young in the winner's enclosure. Winning jockey Ryusei Sakai said, "I was very confident coming into the race but it was a tougher race because the runner-up was tough and running really well. I was worried but we finished very strongly. He hasn't fully matured but he is improving now. At the final turn I was very confident and I trusted my horse so I just urged him very strongly to the line. I have been riding him since his debut and my master Yahagi and I hope he can have more and more experience overseas and I can learn a lot from him."

Right: Forever Young in his winner's blanket.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: The winning connections celebrate with the trophies after the race. Winning trainer Yoshito Yahagi said, "He didn't have a good start. He was wide out and it was a tough race, but he ended up winning, so we are very satisfied. He didn't like the kickback, so the jockey kept him wide out. Still, he had a very good performance, so I'm very happy about that. We will first head to the UAE Derby before hopefully the Kentucky Derby. My heart is very, very tired. Stretching out to distance is very welcome for him. I love Saudi Arabia, I love this country."

Right: Second place finisher Book'em Danno at the finish. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "He just got caught on the wire but he ran really good."

horse racing The longest race on Saudi Cup night is the $2.5 million Longines Red Sea Turf Handicap (G3), a 3000 meter (about 1 7/8 mile) marathon around three turns of the 1 1/8 mile turf course. Tower of London, 4th in the St Leger Stakes (G1) before disappointing 9th in the Friends of the Curragh Handicap, was sent off as the 3-1 favorite over 9-2 second choice Iron Barows, winner of the Stayers Stakes (G2) before finishing 11th in the Arima Kinen (G1), and 5-1 third choice Al Nayyir, 4th in the Prix Royal Oak (G1) before finishing a close second in the Al Khail Trophy.

Jockey Ryusei Sakai sent 10-1 Libyan Glass to the front through easy fractions of 25.67, 51.07, 1:15.95, 1:38.73, 2:03.38, and 2:28.82 while pressed by 25-1 Echt and stalked by 13-1 Roberto Escobarr and Iron Barows. In the stretch Libyan Glass tired as Enemy, unhurried early, swept to the lead chased by 9-1 Giavellotto. Tower of London, last early under Ryan Moore, came out wide and rallied to get up by a head in 3:04.43. It was another 3/4 length back to Giavellotto third.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
11  Tower of London      Moore          8.10     3.60
 9  Enemy                Kingscote               7.10
 1  Giavellotto          Murphy                  7.50

Winning Time:  3:04.43

$1  Exacta 11-9                     55.60
$1  Trifecta 11-9-1                383.40
$1  Superfecta 11-9-1-5          7,755.20
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Tower of London heads to the winner's circle. Winning jockey Ryan Moore said, "He's a lightly raced horse. He's from a very good family, a brother to Capri and the family have done well for the yard. He'd been working well, they always held him in high regard. We had to be patient and a few horses were dropping back. We eventually got out and he got there at the end. Today was the first time he was able to run on a flat track on quick ground and Aidan has had a lot of faith."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

horse racing
Tower of London heads back to the barn after the race. Winning owner M.V. Magnier said, "In fairness to Aidan he was quite confident coming out here and Ryan said he was going to take his time. He's pretty cool, relaxed and nothing fazes him. I haven't spoken to Aidan yet but I'd say the chances are he could go for Dubai Gold Cup but it'll be up to Aidan and the lads. I've been here for the past few days, it's remarkable the welcome we've got and the people have been brilliant."

horse racing The $2 million Saudi National Bank 1351 Turf Sprint (G2) featured a field of 11 older horses sprinting 1351 meters (about 6 3/4 furlongs) around one turn of the turf course. Jebel Ali Free Zone Handicap and Al Fahidi Fort (G2) winner Mysterious Night was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 7-2 second choice Aguri, second in the Silk Road (G3) after finishing third in the Hanshin Cup (G2), and 6-1 third choice Matilda Picotte, winner of the Sceptre Stakes (G3) at Doncaster and Employee Awards Challenge (G3) at Newmarket.

Jockey Oisin Murphy sent Matilda Picotte to the lead while pressed by 10-1 Art Power and stalked by 34-1 Dr Zempf. In midstretch Matilda Picotte tired as 16-1 Anaaf, well back early under Rossa Ryan, came through along the rail and held off late-running 18-1 La La Christine to win by 3/4 length in 1:17.49. It was another 3/4 length back to 36-1 Byline third, while favorite Mysterious Night was midpack early but failed to rally finishing 13th beaten 11 1/4 lengths.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
 2  Anaaf                Ryan          34.90     9.80
13  La La Christine      Demuro                 10.50
 5  Byline               Mosse                  17.40

Winning Time:  1:17.88

$1  Exacta 2-13                    348.90
$1  Trifecta 2-13-5              7,775.50
$1  Superfecta 2-13-5-12        28,119.10
Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Anaaf in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Rossa Ryan said, "With Annaf I have always tended to ride for luck. It seems to work for him. He lets hard-hitters do the work for him and picks up the pieces. The trip today was a huge concern but he got six furlongs on grass at Ascot on heavy ground, we went a right good gallop and I was where I wanted to be following Jumby and lucky the gaps came. The owner and trainer don't put any pressure on me and I know he has pace to get me out of trouble. I didn't have a lot of room but he stuck his head out for me. It's brilliant because I picked this lad up as a spare one day in Lingfield, I had to drop him out and bide my time and the relationship formed from there."

Right: Anaaf returns after the race.

horse racing
The trophy presentation for the 1351 Turf Sprint. Winning trainer Mick Appleby said, "I think as long as he gets a good pace to aim at, he likes coming from behind and if the pace collapses he's at his best. It makes it all worth it. It's great going abroad winning these races and it puts us on the international map. Huge credit to the team in the yard who work hard all year. Rossa gave him a great ride. All down to Rossa, not my training. He keeps improving and keeps surprising us. God knows where we go next. He has got an invite to Japan, so possibly we'll go there next. We always thought he was good horse who'd get better with age and he might not be finished yet. The sky is the limit."

The $2 million Howden Neom Turf Cup (G2) featured older horses going 2100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles) around 2 turns of the turf. Irish Champion Stakes (G1) and Hong Kong Cup (G1) runner-up Luxembourg was sent off as the 3-5 favorite over 7-1 second choice The Foxes, 3rd in the Winter Derby Trial after finishing 4th in the Juddmonte International (G1), and 8-1 third choice Hearts Concerto, 4th in the Nikkei Shinshun Hai.

27-1 Jack Darcy and Luxembourg battled for the early lead while stalked by 23-1 Grocer Jack and 19-1 Astro King. On the far turn Luxembourg took over the lead but 13-1 Spirit Dancer, midpack early under Oisin Orr, came out for room and outfinished 23-1 Killer Ability by a length to win in 2:07.10. It was another 1/2 length back to late-running 88-1 longest shot Calif third, and another neck back to favorite Luxembourg fourth.

horse racing

 #  Horse               Jockey          Win    Place
10  Spirit Dancer        Orr           29.40     5.30
 8  Killer Ability       Demuro                 10.50
 4  Calif                De Vries               36.90

Winning Time:  2:07.10

$1  Exacta 10-8                    329.50
$1  Trifecta 10-8-4             11,244.10
$1  Superfecta 10-8-4-9         52,991.40

Results Chart from JCSA with video replay

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Spirit Dancer returns after the race. Winning trainer Richard Fahey said, "We'll send him back to Dubai. We'll see how he is in the morning but it's hard not to go back to Dubai. I'll be shocked if he doesn't line up in something on World Cup night. Always in my mind I wanted to stretch out to a mile and a half [2400m] but I don't want to make any decisions tonight. Any horse that goes on the international scene, becomes a people's horse, and he's got a huge fan base - the lad that has a share in him has something to do with that! As trainers we don't really understand what it means to people and to see the enjoyment gives me huge pride. He gets his head down and gallops to the line."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Neom Turf Cup. Winning owner-breeder Sir Alex Ferguson said, "It's fantastic, after Bahrain you come here and look at the field, the performance from Oisin and the horse and Richard, it's unbelievable. Richard made the point he hasn't had a lot of racing, and I think we see the evidence today. Oisin said this morning the horse is improving all the time. I took a gamble a few years ago with a stud in Hemel Hampstead and the results have been very good. That puts his win in Bahrain in perspective. Richard gave us confidence but it is one of these things, you are never too confident."

horse racing
King Shalaa wins the Saudi International Handicap

Immediately before the international graded stakes action, a field of 14 older horses contested the $500,000 NGC Saudi International Handicap at 2100 meters (about 1 5/16 miles) on the main track. 12-1 Silawi set the pace while pressed by 6-1 Flying Visit and stalked by 40-1 Khartoum. In the stretch 20-1 King Shalaa, midpack early under Faleh Bughanaim, took over the lead at the 1/16 pole and drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over late-running 12-1 My Frankel in 2:07.15. It was another 3/4 length back to pacesetter Silawi third, and a head back to 3-1 favorite Finest Sound fourth.

Official chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: King Shalaa in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Faleh Bughanaim said, "The trainer was very confident in the horse and told me we had a good chance today. When I ask him to go he gave me a good day. Today is one of the bigger races for me outside of Qatar." Owner Ali Al Kubaisi added, "We won the main races in Qatar and we continued in the UK with the Gold Cup and this is only the start. We are a big farm with many horses that compete anywhere."

Right: The trophy presentation for the Saudi International Handicap. Winning trainer Alban de Mieulle said, "He was a good horse and is coming back to form. He had a light weight today and was in very good condition. We hadn't been able to run him for the last two months because of back issues. I am delighted. This is a big challenge and it's very important to come here. I like a challenge anyway and it's nice to have the challenge. I don't think they will go to Dubai now."

horse racing
Asfan Al Khalediah wins the Obaiya Classic

The world's richest race for Purebred Arabians is the $2 million Diriya Gate Development Authority Obaiya Classic (G1) for older horses going 2000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) on the main track. 51-1 Saloum Al Khalediah set the pace while pressed by 30-1 Qaswarat Al Khalediah and stalked by 1-2 favorite Asfan Al Khaelediah through an opening half in 50.80. Turning for home Qaswarat Al Khalediah tired as Asfan Al Khalediah gained the lead. Kept to task by Abdullah Alawfi, Asfan Al Khalediah drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over 8-1 third choice Vizhir in 2:13.72. It was a nose back to late-running 4-1 second choice Najeeb Al Zaman third.

Official chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: Asfan Al Khalediah heads to the winner's circle.

Right: Asfan Al Khalediah in the winner's circle.

horse racing
Aljamaanee wins the Jockey Club Local Handicap

The curtain-raiser on Saudi Cup night is the $1.5 million Ministry of Culture Jockey Club Local Handicap for Saudi-bred older horses going the Saudi Cup trip of 1800 meters (1 1/8 miles) on the main track. 94-1 Waraad Aljood led down the backstretch and around the turn while pressed by 10-1 Ibn Toulon and 37-1 Aljamaanee. Turning for home Waraad Aljood and Ibn Toulon tired allowing Aljamaanee to inherit the lead. Kept to task by Cristian Demuro, Aljamaanee held off late-running 38-1 Taj Alaelya'a by 3/4 length to win in 1:50.52. It was a long 6 1/4 lengths back to 2-1 favorite Almobeer third.

Official chart

horse racinghorse racing Left: Aljamaanee heads to the winner's circle.

Right: Aljamaanee in his winner's blanket.

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